While many people are excited about the holidays and look forward to the joy the holiday season can bring, the alcoholic family dreads the season. If your spouse is an alcoholic, here are the 3 most common fears that can take away from your Christmas spirit and contribute to holiday depression.
(If you think you or someone you know has a parent or spouse with an alcohol problem, please click hereto see the 5 mistakes spouse’s of alcoholics make. You must read this immediately! Your well being and your children’s well being may depend on it).
1. Fear of embarrassment.
You are expected to show up to your office Christmas party with your spouse. Unfortunately, you have an alcoholic husband. You are worried your spouse will drink too much and act inappropriate in front of your employer and coworkers. You can’t stand when he attracts negative attention. This is a common scenario for you where you feel the need to apologize and make excuses for his substance abuse (alcohol) and his behavior. You cringe at the thought. You are concerned that your coworkers and boss will feel sorry for you and give you sympathetic looks. You know your spouse’s alcohol problem is a reflection on you because you have chosen to stay in the marriage and put up with it. When you leave the party, you know you will feel as though your coworker’s respect for you has gone down a notch.
2. Fear of being judged by your relatives and friends at your Christmas dinner.
Another year has gone by and here you are again at a holiday dinner with your extended family. Your spouse hates when Christmas dinner is with your family. You are afraid to see her getting drunk in front of every one! She drinks more around your family to numb herself despite her promise to “behave” in front of your parents and relatives. You can feel the tension. Your parents exchange looks. Your children look to you to stop her from drinking as though you have any control over the outcome (you don’t). You feel judged for her problem with alcohol. The times you have had Christmas dinner with her family is just as painful as you watch your father-in-law put one drink away after another and you understand the root of your wife’s addiction. You are judged in that environment for your obvious disapproval. You feel you can’t win.
3. Fear that your alcoholic spouse’s drinking will get even more out of control during the holidays.
The holidays encourage over indulgence and celebration. Not only are there more opportunities to drink at parties and family gatherings, but there is almost a “societal understanding” that it is acceptable to drink more and overeat this time of year as part of enjoying yourself. To add fuel to the fire all the negative family dynamics tend to come into play this time of year. Resentments are stirred up with strained family relationships. Expectations are dashed. Finances are often stretched with gift giving. As a psychiatrist, I see a lot of holiday depression and anxiety. Alcohol relapse is very common.